By Maina Malaya
While legal game meat outlets are starting to pop up around the country, especially in Lusaka. Many people who may be interested in joining the industry still have unanswered questions. Information on the matter can often be limited. Then there is the misconception that indigenous Zambians cannot succeed in this industry. This is despite the fact that a number of indigenous Zambians have successfully set up their legal game meat retail businesses.
In a recent conversation two indigenous Zambians, who run legal game meat outlets in Livingstone and Lusaka respectively, shared their experiences and opinions on the industry and why it is so important for wildlife conservation efforts in Zambia.
Like any other business, the legal game meat retail business has many challenges and opportunities. One challenge that came up repeatedly in our conversations was the need to establish a healthy and sustainable relationship with your meat supplier, in this case, a game farmer.
This can take time and as the industry is still in its infancy and thus trust is yet to be established fully. Chilekwa Mukonge, a Lusaka trader and new player in the industry emphasized that persistence is key to setting up.
Another challenge is the duration of the trading permit application process which can vary depending on a range of factors such as the process of ensuring that the applicant has complied with all the necessary requirements. Samson Kandala, who has run a game meat business in Livingstone for about two years now, waited for a slightly longer period for his permit as compared to Ms Mukonge whose permit took only took three months. Pursuing success in this business clearly requires one to be driven. It is not enough to only want to set up the business, but one needs to have a passion for what the legal game meat business does for wildlife.
Samson Kandala said, “the hardest part of the process was obtaining a recommendation from a game farmer”. For people in cities, this can be a challenge because most game farmers are located on the outskirts of town, but fortunately you can visit www.wpazambia.com for lists of game farmers in Zambia.
“I simply had to write a letter expressing what I was requesting” said Ms Mukonge who initially started with an online research and found little information on how to set up a legal retail game meat outlet. She wrote a letter that she personally delivered to the headquarters of the Department of National parks and wildlife in Chilanga. Similarly, Mr Kandala also wrote to the Livingstone office and the letter was sent to the Headquarters in Lusaka.
Feedback for both retailers from the Department was that an inspection was going to be conducted to ensure the premises of the outlets were up to standard, water, and electricity availability among other things. A report was written and after two weeks they were contacted to collect their permits to trade.
Despite the challenges, the legal game meat retail business presents many opportunities. Apart from job creation and the pioneering work involved, Chilekwa Mukonge, owner of Urban Hunters said that it is a more sustainable way of consuming wildlife meat as compared to the illegal bushmeat trade.
Samson Kandala, owner of Pasawi General Trading in Livingstone also mentioned that the business has the potential to reduce illegal bushmeat consumption which in turn would help stabilize wildlife populations in our national parks.
Clearly anyone can venture into legal game meat retailing. It is important to be patient and persistent in any business to get what you want. To get the ball rolling, all that must be done is drafting a letter to the Department of National Parks And Wildlife expressing interest.
The risks posed by the illegal bushmeat trade to Zambia’s wildlife cannot be ignored as it is the biggest threat to our wildlife. If you would like to contribute to the legal game meat industry, support the legal game meat retailers. The more legal game meat we buy the more the demand grows. This can mean growth for the legal game meat industry and reduced illegal bushmeat trade.
Game farming, the raising wildlife on private or community land, is a sustainable way of sourcing game meat because farmed animals increase overtime and can be cropped. Game meat sourced in this way is also safer for human consumption as the meat is only made available to licensed outlets after both the animal and its carcass have been inspected and ensured fit for consumption.
Compared to the illegal bushmeat trade that involves indiscriminate poaching of wildlife in national parks and game management areas, game farming/ranching is certainly a viable alternative.
Another drawback with the illegal bushmeat industry comes from the fact that poachers often process their illegal kill in unhygienic conditions, posing a serious threat to public health. Unlicensed bushmeat is sold to members of the public who may not be sure if what they are consuming is healthy or safe. It further decreases the potential growth of tourism and the legal game-farming industry.
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